Federal Criminal Trial for Killing George Floyd: Defendant Thomas Lane Testimony

On February 22, 2022, Defendant Thomas Lane took the witness stand to provide his testimony in defense of the charges that he illegally deprived George Floyd of his constitutional rights. The following is a summary of that testimony based on the cited newspaper articles. [1]

Lane’s Personal Background

Lane began by his life and background. He grew up in Arden Hills, Minnesota and attended Mounds View High School and earned an associate’s degree from Century College before attending the University of Minnesota and deciding to pursue a career in law enforcement.

He will be turning 39 in a couple of weeks. His wife and he are expecting their first child soon.

Lane’s Minneapolis Police Department Background

In February 2019 he was accepted by the MPD and completed his training in December of that year. The training taught them that in cases of excited delirium officers were to keep the person from “thrashing, hold them in place” until paramedics arrive to inject ketamine. Under cross examination, he admitted that they were trained if someone did not have a pulse to start CPR within 5 to 10 seconds with Lane’s qualifier “if the situation allows.”

During the first five months of 2020 he had been on about 120 calls as a probationary officer.

                              Lane’s Encounter with George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, Lane on his fourth shift as a full-fledged officer and fellow rookie officer, J. Alexander Kueng, were the first officers answering a call of alleged forgery in progress at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis.

After being told by someone at Cup that the suspect was outside in a car across the street, Lane went there and gave commands to the suspect (Floyd) and after he got out of the car, Lane handcuffed him. Soon thereafter Lane had Floyd sit on a sidewalk with his back against a wall and he did not try to get up or escape.

Later when Chauvin arrived and pinned Floyd on the ground with his knee, Lane held down Floyd’s legs and Kueng restrained his midsection. After about four minutes, Lane noticed that Floyd had stopped resisting and Lane said, “Should we roll him on his side?” But Chauvin said, “Nope, we’re good like this.” 

Later Lane said he didn’t always have a clear view of what Chauvin was doing, but that his knee “appeared to be just kind of holding [him] at the base of the neck and shoulder.” When he could not see Floyd’s face, Lane asked again to roll him over to “better  asses” his condition. Chauvin did not respond and instead asked if Lane and Kueng were OK.

Lane felt reassured when an ambulance arrived and a paramedic checked Floyd’s pulse while  retrieving a stretcher without urgency, leading Lane to believe that “Floyd’s all right.” 

Lane choked up and became teary as he described why he went in the ambulance to help the paramedics. “Just based on when Mr. Floyd was turned over, he didn’t look good, and I just felt like , the situation, he might need a hand.”

In the ambulance, Lane realized Floyd had gone into cardiac arrest. 

During cross examination, Lane agreed that “fear of negative repercussions , fear of angering a field training officer [like Chauvin] is not an exception to the duty to render aid.”


[1] Olson & Mannix, After Lane takes stand, testimony concludes in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with abusing George Floyd’s civil rights, StarTribune (Feb. 21, 2022); Arango, Former Officers Finish Defense in Trial   Over George Floyd’s Death, N.Y. Times (Feb. 21, 2022); Bailey, Defense rests after testimony from former Minneapolis officer who said he tried to get Chauvin to reposition Floyd, Wash. Post (Feb. 21, 2022).

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As a retired lawyer and adjunct law professor, Duane W. Krohnke has developed strong interests in U.S. and international law, politics and history. He also is a Christian and an active member of Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. His blog draws from these and other interests. He delights in the writing freedom of blogging that does not follow a preordained logical structure. The ex post facto logical organization of the posts and comments is set forth in the continually being revised “List of Posts and Comments–Topical” in the Pages section on the right side of the blog.

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